Partygate? It’s a term used by the UK press to refer to the flouting of the pandemic protocol by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his aides.
Oh! Yes. It was a Daily Mirror report from November 2021 that brought the whole thing to light. It told about a Christmas party that had been held the previous year at No 10 Downing Street, which is where the country’s prime minister lives and runs an office from. Johnson skirted the issue saying none of the regulations had been flouted, but a few days later a leaked video showed a senior No 10 staffer joking about the party… Johnson was forced to order an investigation.
What did it find? The first one, led by cabinet secretary Simon Case, did not submit its report because Case had to excuse himself from the investigation… Case’s office, it seemed, had been a venue for one of the parties. The second one was led by another senior civil servant Sue Gray, who was supposed to publish her report this week.
Why hasn't she? The Met police had launched their own investigation after Gray's had started. So now the police wants her to keep out references that could influence Met's probe. Gray is trying to hit the right balance--between giving a fair report and holding back information that could be considered prejudicial.
How many such parties were there? Nine or so. There was a garden party in May 2020, a birthday party for Johnson in June 2020 and a farewell party for a No 10 aide in November 2020, and a series of them–to thank various departments, to celebrate Christmas and simply to get together for Conservative Party members–were held in December 2020. Two were also held in April 2021, one of which seemed to have been particularly rowdy with someone sent out late night to smuggle in more alcohol, and with dancing to loud music late into the night. All of this when the rest of the country was put under different levels of lockdowns–when they couldn’t either step out of their homes or when indoor meetings were allowed only with a limited number of people. In fact, the one held on April 16, 2021, was just a day before Prince Philip’s funeral when Queen Elizabeth had to sit alone and away from her family to follow the pandemic protocol.
What has Johnson said so far? He has refused to resign over it and has said that he is waiting for investigation reports to clear the air. When the scandal began unfolding last year, he had insisted that no regulations had been flouted. Then, after a video in which a senior No.10 aide as much as admitted to the partying was leaked, he ordered an investigation. Then, as more parties came to light, he began apologising and offering excuses.